60th Anniversary of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Spotlights Need for Restoring Protections

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The 60th  anniversary of the establishment of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge spotlights the need for the incoming Biden administration to prioritize its protection.

“The work that President Eisenhower launched in 1960 by establishing the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to preserve northern Alaska’s unique wildlife, wilderness and subsistence values still endures today,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “We look forward to working with President-elect Biden and the Native Gwich’in people to ensure these sacred grounds — and the polar bears, caribou, musk oxen, Arctic fox and more than 200 migratory birds they support — are conserved for future generations.” 

The Department of Interior has announced plans to sell oil and gas leases in the coastal plain of the refuge during the first week of January — days before President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated — despite broad opposition from the American public, local Indigenous communities, and financial institutions and in contradiction to data from its own scientists showing the threats that energy development poses to wildlife. 

The oil leases would be offered up on nearly 1.6 million acres of the coastal plain of the wildlife refuge. The area is home to more than 270 species of wildlife. Scores of scientific studies have shown that drilling in this region would have devastating effects on wildlife and increase greenhouse gas emissions. The National Wildlife Federation has worked on advocating for adequate protections for this pristine habitat since the 1950s.


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